Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Arranged Marriages : should the parents decide

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Some people believe in love at first sight, while others believe it takes time to love someone. In life having a companion is a very important factor. It’s hard to form a good relationship right when you meet that person. It takes time, patience, and trust to love that person and positively is sure it will last. If a relationship goes well, it will eventually end in marriage. Some cultures in the world however don’t allow their children to meet that special someone on their own. So you ask then how would they meet someone that they would love and get married to. This brings me to the tradition of arranged marriages.


Arranged marriages have been around in parts of the Middle East and Asia as long as the institution of marriage itself. In the arranged world, they say marriage comes first and love later. The question is what is an arranged marriage? Arranged marriages for the previous generations were arranged solely by the parents. The boy or girl probably wouldn’t even see each other before the wedding, depending on the parents. The parents by word of mouth from a friend or relative would hear of someone’s son or daughter. Than they would go and approach the family if they were of a good respectable background and ask if they are willing to marry off their son or daughter with theirs. If an


agreement was made then they would marry the kids off without them ever meeting each other before marriage. Today, however the concept of arranged marriages is totally different, although some may do what was done in the past. Today the parents give a choice. The boy or girl is allowed to see and talk to the possible spouse before the wedding to see if they are compatible.


Western countries, such as Canada and the United States of America, believe In a dating system that consists of seeing many different people to choose a compatible mate which they will marry in the future (Sharma, Kirti). Arranged couples living here in the United States see that Western societal and cultural pressures differ from their homeland. Which is why some won’t ask their children to accept an arranged marriage. In western society of course, arranged marriages are often looked down upon as being “ Old fashioned” or out of date (Women’s table).


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Throughout the subcontinent of Asia and Europe, the dominant portions of marriages are arranged. In India, nearly 5 percent of marriages are arranged. Marriages which have been set by the parents have declined in popularity, but still occur frequently in Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan (Sumi, Kyoko). Many Indian families who have settled outside India still uphold this tradition. Often the most important aspect is the bond between the two families, rather then the relationships between the couple being married. Property or land with the aim of securing social status sometimes secures marriage agreements. Andris Skiereiga, a University of Nebraska at Omaha Sociology professor, said that wealthy families often arrange marriages to preserve their property (Sumi, Kyoko). Most parents would want their wealth to stay in-between the families they know and not to strangers.


With a number of traditional African cultures (Olinka tribe for example) and Asian cultures (India comes to mind), it is common for women to have their mates already selected for them by both the women’s and their mates’ parents. (Women’s table). When it comes to the choice of marriage, the children don’t have much of it. Instead in this generation its much more modern, the parents would decide first if this person would be the right person, then give the child the choice. In the view of the child, this would not be easy because some parents would persuade their child to marry this person even though they choose not to.


Here in America, since arranged marriages are not as common as in the eastern countries, there are people (preferably men) who have been to jail for arranged marriages. Mostly older men take advantage of this tradition by marrying girls as young as 1 and most of them get away with it. An example of this situation would be “ In Nebraska this week, Lancaster County authorities brought felony charges against two Iraqi men who had entered into arranged marriages with 1 � and �14 year old Iraqi girls” (Sumi, Kyoko). Mostly arranged marriages are done in the eastern countries because it is legal to marry girls that young. Many parents marry off their children as young as 1, to teach them the responsibility of the outside world. How to survive on their own and take on the responsibility of the many challenges that life may bestow upon them.


Supporters of this custom say that divorce rates are lower then among western society because parents are better able to choose a suitable partner for their children. Fewer then 4% of arranged marriages end in a divorce, which is tremendously low in comparison to Western countries such as Canada and the U.S.A. The reason for this is because in this society the mate is chosen for the person. This leaves the person with little or no expectation from their mate. Whereas a person in a love marriage expects so much from his/her companion leading to arguments and then perhaps a divorce when the demands are not met (Sharma, Kirti). Arranged marriages work because family, religion, and culture all contribute. In traditional Indian marriages, the married couple generally does not share emotional closeness until years of marriage, if then, and divorce is very rare (Goodwin 86).


In the United States I have seen many girls from eastern countries that have been in an arranged marriage. I have talked to a woman of Middle Eastern descent that is originally from Jordan. Basima Altareq revealed her views about arranged marriages. She is 1 years old and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. While sitting down with Mrs. Altareq she really showed me how she felt about arranged marriages. Basima was married when she was 16 years old; she got married in Jordan. She was introduced to her husband through family members. He came to ask for her hand and her parents liked him, than all of a sudden it was announced that she was engaged to this guy that she didn’t get to meet. Basima was never in favor of an arranged marriage but her parents had an arranged marriage and thought that would be the best way for their children to get married. When you are in an arranged marriage it takes time to really get to know someone to the point of loving him or her. Basima, even though married for three years now, is still finding out new things and learns to like and love her husband even more each day that goes by.


Arranged marriages are done all over the world but was first introduced in the eastern countries. Arranged marriages are very interesting to learn about while learning about the different cultures that do this. This is a different aspect to look at while looking at the way countries do their marriage traditions.





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